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climate change

Ancient plankton communities stressed before mass extinction

Changes in our modern ecosystems, such as declines in biodiversity and invasive species, are similar to those that preceded the first of Earth’s mass extinctions about 443 million years ago, according to a new study. Researchers recently found that ancient plankton communities began to show environmental stress nearly 400,000 years before the extinction, as the planet cooled.

15 Nov 2016

Toad behavior linked to climate change

Fowler’s toads — listed as endangered in Canada — hibernate for eight months to escape harsh winter conditions. They bury themselves up to a meter deep in the sand dunes along the shore of Lake Erie in Long Point, Ontario, which is the northern extent of their range. In May, they emerge at the surface to breed, in response to warmer air temperature and the lunar cycle. But scientists have now found that the toads are emerging earlier in the spring, according to a new study in Global Change Biology.

08 Nov 2016

Ocean acidification worsens overnight along California coast

Carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans causes seawater to become more acidic, which, as scientists have long been documenting, can negatively impact marine animals; for example, acidified waters damage the calcite skeletons and shells of organisms like coral, mussels and oysters by causing them to dissolve. In a new study, scientists have found that ocean seawater acidification may also be taking a toll on shelled organisms like coralline algae, bivalves and gastropods residing in tide pools along California’s coastlines.

29 Jul 2016

Sea-level rise a risk for millions in the United States

One of the most obvious consequences of human-induced global warming is glacial melting and the sea-level rise that will occur as a result. Yet, few studies examining the potential toll of sea-level rise in the United States have factored in continuing population growth, according to the authors of a new study in Nature Climate Change. Using population projections for the year 2100, researchers led by Mathew Hauer of the University of Georgia projected how many people in the U.S. would be displaced by then due to sea-level rise of either 0.9 meters or 1.8 meters.

21 Jul 2016

Social trends and shifting climates had complex effects in medieval Italy

It’s easy to anecdotally pin environmental changes and their societal impacts on shifting climates. But when scientists and historians came together to look at environmental changes through the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly and cold Little Ice Age in Rieti, Italy, they found that the real story of climate and social change is much more complex — and interesting.

02 Jun 2016

Reading the ridges: Are climate and the seafloor connected?

New research suggests that midocean ridge volcanoes respond to variations in sea level, potentially leaving topographic records of past glaciations in the form of abyssal hills. But could those volcanoes also influence the climate cycles that drive sea-level changes?

25 Apr 2016

Comment: How 'Frankenstein' prevents us from tackling climate change

During the unusually dark and stormy summer months of 1816 following the eruption of Mount Tambora, Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein.” The story has continued to shape the public’s distrust of scientists and the scientific method.

09 Mar 2016

How to feed 11 billion people: Addressing the 21st century's biggest challenge

Feeding the world in the future, as global populations reach upward of 11 billion in the next century, is likely to be a Herculean task. But researchers are working on how to address the issue from the skies down to the fields.

18 Jan 2016

Chinese cave art reveals record of climate change

In times of drought, Dayu Cave in the Qinling Mountains of central China has remained a reliable source of water, and since at least the 16th century, thirsty visitors to the cave recorded their pilgrimages on the walls. Now the graffiti — rendered in black pigment on the yellow cave walls — is providing scientists with a unique record of how climate change affected nearby communities between 1520 and 1920. 
 
13 Dec 2015

Counting 'tree' rings in fish skulls provides climate clues

Most fish have little structures in their skulls that record growth patterns — periods of feast and famine — just like tree rings. Now, scientists are using these structures, called otoliths, to show how fish size may decrease as a result of a changing ocean. 

16 Jun 2015

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